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She Plays…​

Details
Programme: She Plays…​
Director: Multiple
Format: Digital / Category III
Type: Screening
Length: 62 min.
Language: Multiple (some with Chinese and/or English subtitles)
Audience: Adults
Location: House 1

She Plays…​

This programme investigates female agency and delves into issues of women's on-screen representation. The works in the selection exemplify how the construction of an image can be revealed and subverted through the techniques of collage, montage, deconstruction, and subtext. Featuring works from the late 1960s to the present, ‘She Plays’ attests to the lasting impact of media histories on artists’ moving image practices. The artists explore how assumptions and challenges about representation continue to remain urgent.

Dara Birnbaum. MTV: Artbreak, 1987. Single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 30 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Dara Birnbaum/EAI

Harun Farocki. An Image, 1983. Single-channel 16mm film transferred to digital video (colour, sound), duration: 25 min.. M+, Hong Kong. © Harun Farocki

Nalini Malani. Onanism, 1969. Single-channel 16mm reversal film transferred to digital video (black and white, sound), duration: 3 min. 52 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Nalini Malani

Dara Birnbaum. MTV: Artbreak, 1987. Single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 30 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Dara Birnbaum/EAI

Harun Farocki. An Image, 1983. Single-channel 16mm film transferred to digital video (colour, sound), duration: 25 min.. M+, Hong Kong. © Harun Farocki

Nalini Malani. Onanism, 1969. Single-channel 16mm reversal film transferred to digital video (black and white, sound), duration: 3 min. 52 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Nalini Malani

Dara Birnbaum. MTV: Artbreak, 1987. Single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 30 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Dara Birnbaum/EAI

Harun Farocki. An Image, 1983. Single-channel 16mm film transferred to digital video (colour, sound), duration: 25 min.. M+, Hong Kong. © Harun Farocki

Nalini Malani. Onanism, 1969. Single-channel 16mm reversal film transferred to digital video (black and white, sound), duration: 3 min. 52 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Nalini Malani

Dara Birnbaum. MTV: Artbreak, 1987. Single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 30 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Dara Birnbaum/EAI

Harun Farocki. An Image, 1983. Single-channel 16mm film transferred to digital video (colour, sound), duration: 25 min.. M+, Hong Kong. © Harun Farocki

Nalini Malani. Onanism, 1969. Single-channel 16mm reversal film transferred to digital video (black and white, sound), duration: 3 min. 52 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Nalini Malani

MTV: Artbreak

Dara Birnbaum | 1987 | Single-channel digital video |  Colour | Sound | 30 sec.

M+, Hong Kong

MTV Artbreak, made for the Artbreak segment on MTV, presents a cheeky and condensed historical survey of female representation in animation and mass media. An animated machine ‘draws’ a woman in 1920s clothing before rapidly altering the ingenue to reflect stylised illustrations of women in successive decades. This is then followed by a sequence of live-action clips forming a collage of televisual depictions of women. The film ends on a self-referential note with a woman editing a clip of Max Fleischer, the creator of Betty Boop, as if finally reversing a long history of one-sided representations on-screen.

An Image

Harun Farocki | 1983 | Digital video | Colour | Sound | Chinese & English subtitles | 25 min.

M+, Hong Kong

An Image addresses the production of an image and the social implications of that process. The artist spent four days in a Playboy studio in Munich to document the making of a photograph for the magazine, capturing the model’s exhaustion, the photographer’s endless instructions, and the work of assistants, technicians, and stylists. The film uncovers the painstaking labour behind the glossy photograph and Playboy’s economy of heterosexual male desire and consumption. Unveiling the cultural and commercial systems that revolve around the naked woman, Farocki’s film raises questions related to the use of images to shape desires and lifestyles in contemporary society. 

Onanism

Nalini Malani | 1969 | Digital video | B/W | Sound | 3 min. 52 sec.

M+, Hong Kong

Onanism features a lightly dressed young woman lying alone on a striped blanket. Filmed in black and white and accompanied by the sound of a film reel, she interacts with a bedsheet, which she twists, pulls, and wraps around her contorting figure. The camera captures her from various angles and distances, sometimes tightly framing her eyes, a particular surface or feature, generally abstracting her body and its activity. The title refers to masturbation and the work is characteristic of the artist’s interest in addressing unspoken aspects of women’s lives while calling attention to the viewer’s role as witness or even voyeur.

The Dusk of Teheran

Tao Hui | 2014 | Single-channel digital video | Colour | Sound | Chinese & English subtitles | 4 min. 12 sec.

M+, Hong Kong

The Dusk of Teheran follows a veiled Iranian woman wearing a white wedding dress. She confesses to an unseen driver that her desire for marriage and a family has been thwarted by the adoration and she attained fame as a singer and entertainer. Transposing remarks made by Cantopop superstar Anita Mui during her last concert into another context, Tao Hui’s work comments upon the struggles and impossible choices many women make between career and family, particularly in societies and spaces in which their freedoms are restricted.  

Tao Hui. The Dusk of Teheran, 2014. Single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 4 min. 12 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Tao Hui

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. IT'S A WOMAN'S WORLD (BUT IT WOULDN'T BE NOTHING WITHOUT A MAN OR A BOY), 2007. Single-channel digital video (black and white, sound), duration: 2 min. 55 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES

Dara Birnbaum. Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, 1978–1979. single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 5 min. 50 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Dara Birnbaum/EAI

Tao Hui. The Dusk of Teheran, 2014. Single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 4 min. 12 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Tao Hui

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. IT'S A WOMAN'S WORLD (BUT IT WOULDN'T BE NOTHING WITHOUT A MAN OR A BOY), 2007. Single-channel digital video (black and white, sound), duration: 2 min. 55 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES

Dara Birnbaum. Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, 1978–1979. single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 5 min. 50 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Dara Birnbaum/EAI

Tao Hui. The Dusk of Teheran, 2014. Single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 4 min. 12 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Tao Hui

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. IT'S A WOMAN'S WORLD (BUT IT WOULDN'T BE NOTHING WITHOUT A MAN OR A BOY), 2007. Single-channel digital video (black and white, sound), duration: 2 min. 55 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES

Dara Birnbaum. Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, 1978–1979. single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 5 min. 50 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Dara Birnbaum/EAI

Tao Hui. The Dusk of Teheran, 2014. Single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 4 min. 12 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Tao Hui

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. IT'S A WOMAN'S WORLD (BUT IT WOULDN'T BE NOTHING WITHOUT A MAN OR A BOY), 2007. Single-channel digital video (black and white, sound), duration: 2 min. 55 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES

Dara Birnbaum. Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, 1978–1979. single-channel digital video (colour, sound), duration: 5 min. 50 sec.. M+, Hong Kong. © Dara Birnbaum/EAI

IT'S A WOMAN'S WORLD (BUT IT WOULDN'T BE NOTHING WITHOUT A MAN OR A BOY)

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES | 2007 | Single-channel digital video | Sound | B/W | 2 min. 55 sec.

M+, Hong Kong

In this work, Young-hae Chang and Marc Voge, who work as the collective Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, take a critical look at the enduring dialectics that drive gendered expectations as well as trends in popular culture. Set in four horizontal monochrome boxes and synched to a jazzy electronic soundtrack, the text-based animation in English and Korean conveys in overlapping iterations an inverted interpretation of the song It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, originally written and recorded by James Brown in 1966. The lyrical imaginary of HEAVY INDUSTRIES’ work—with its affirmation of reversed gender roles and a righted power dynamic—nonetheless leaves space for contemplating the actual contours of so-called progress in contemporary society.

Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman

Dara Birnbaum | 1978–1979 | Single-channel digital video | Colour | Sound | Chinese subtitles | 5 min. 50 sec.

M+, Hong Kong

Opening with a jarring explosion, Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman repurposes footage from the Wonder Woman television series in an ironic commentary on the portrayal of women in mass media. Through the artist’s editing with multiple repetitions of the same clip, the superheroine’s triumphant presence transforms into a strenuous, restless existence. Her endless spinning, combined with a re-edited version of the suggestive 1978 song Wonder Woman Disco, underscores how popular culture can trap women in roles and representations over which they have little control.

Mother

Tracey Moffatt | 2009 | Single-channel digital video | Colour, B/W | Sound | Chinese & English subtitles | 20 min.

M+, Hong Kong. Gift of Tracey Moffatt, 2018

As one of eight works in her ‘Montages’ series, Tracey Moffatt’s Mother is a montage of scenes pulled from fictional films and television shows portraying a gamut of relationships between mothers and their children. From caring, tender moments to heated conversations that convey maternal wilfulness, blame, protection, reconciliation, or definite separation, the film calls attention to universal archetypes and the dynamics of personal relationships. By skilfully stitching together a wide range of aesthetics, genres, and filmic tropes, Mother is ultimately an invigorating yet critical celebration of the power of cinema. 

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